Temporary move for Canastota DPW part of plan

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CANASTOTA — The site of a former manufactured gas plant in Canastota has been on the DEC’s radar for a while now — and Canastota Mayor Rosanne Palmer can’t wait for work to start on its remediation.

“Slowly, National Grid is trying to remediate these sites across the state, and this will cost the village nothing,” Palmer said. “National Grid just handled that one in Oneida a few years ago, and they’re still keeping an eye on it.”

The DEC has been monitoring the Canastota site since 2015, and the remediation process is expected to begin in 2024.

The $7.4 million remediation plan proposed by the Department of Environmental Conservation would come out of National Grid’s pocket — not the village.

The Canastota DPW currently sits on a former manufactured gas plant that operated from 1900 to 1926. It was demolished during the 1930s and sat vacant until it was sold to the village in 1969. Half of the site is currently a paved lot, with the other half occupied by the DPW’s garage and gravel areas. The main problem area is in between the DPW garage and salt storage unit.

The gas manufacturing process involved the heating of coal and petroleum products to produce a gas mixture. Once cooled and purified, the gas was distributed through a local pipeline network and used for heating, cooking, and lighting homes and streetlights. A byproduct of the process was coal tar, a dense, oily liquid.

Besides what the building produced, the entire building itself is a hazard that has to be considered.

“Back in the day, they just tore down buildings and built straight over the top of it, and the DEC realized it was an issue,” Palmer said. “Engineers have come in and done studies determining exactly what was in the ground, how it’s affecting the ground, and it seems to be pretty contained to the site where it is.”

Everything will be dug up, besides what’s underneath the actual building. According to Palmer, if the village ever decides to build a new highway garage, the old one would be torn down, and the remediation process would be carried out again for the rest of the site.

The site map lists multiple problem areas on-site, with some labeled “tar saturated” or “coated materials, lenses.”

“Because it’s in the driveway and it’s covered in asphalt, they’re not going to do anything with the DPW garage because there was no contamination in the building,” Palmer said.

The only hurdle would be moving the Canastota Department of Public Works for a short time while work commences.

“We’re going to have to relocate the DPW because [National Grid] is going to need to move a sewer line in front of the building,” Palmer said.

Once remediation begins, the DPW will relocate to Stoneleigh Housing, next to the Little League field.

“It used to be the Water Shop, and we leased it to Aqua for many years, but they haven’t been there for 10 years, and now the building sits vacant,” Palmer said. “The DPW would move there for about six to eight months, and once the site is all filled in and we can get back into the building, we’ll put the DPW back over there.”

The mayor admitted that the move would be an inconvenience for DPW staff but felt it wouldn’t hinder their ability to provide the services they normally do for the village. Once the DPW is out of the former Aqua building, Palmer said the hope is to use the building for recreational purposes.

“The building is right next to senior citizen housing and the Little League field, so we’re looking forward to this project being done,” Palmer said.

The public is invited to comment on the remediation plan currently proposed by the DEC before June 18. For more information on the specific plan or to comment, visit https://www.dec.ny.gov/data/DecDocs/727014/

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